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Tax reform legislation helped lift Sinclair Broadcast’s net income in the fourth quarter, but the company’s total revenue was down mainly due to less political advertising.

Total revenue for the quarter fell 8 percent to $734 million, down from $797.7 million in the year ago period. Political advertising revenues for the last quarter of 2017 were only $16 million in Q4, compared to the $113 million in Q4 of 2016. This loss led to a 5.7 percent decrease in media revenues to $685.4 million. Sinclair’s digital business revenues, however, increased 64 percent year over year.

"The fourth quarter 2017 performance was better than expected with results that exceeded our previously provided guidance for key financial metrics, after adjusting for transaction, legal and other one-time charges," Chris Ripley, president and CEO of Sinclair, said in a statement. "While first quarter of 2018 is off to a slower than expected start due to our low percentage of NBC affiliates which is the network that aired the Super Bowl and Olympics, we are looking forward to growth drivers from the upcoming mid-term elections and the positive effects from tax reform and a growing economy."

Net income for the quarter spiked to $443.5 million, versus $120.9 million in the prior year period.  Sinclair attributed the gain to a $272 million nonrecurring tax benefit and $225 million recognized for vacating spectrum in certain markets.

“We are confident the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax reform legislation will result in a favorable effect through the many small and medium sized local businesses we support on the advertising front,” said David Smith, executive chairman of Sinclair. “Meanwhile, we continue to work with the required governmental agencies towards the successful acquisition of Tribune Media Company, expected to close in the second quarter of 2018."

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